Asheville’s tourism by the numbers

City Hall and Roger McGuire Green. Photo: @toddhemingson

Photo by @toddhemingson

The population of Asheville is right at 90,000 (256,000 in Buncombe County) and while that is considered pretty small in comparison to Charlotte or Winston-Salem (and large compared to Hickory or Boone) it’s well known that Asheville comes in at no. 1 in the Southeast when it comes to out-of-towners checking out our city (and mountains). In 2017, 4 million people visited our little city. It’s no wonder Asheville feels larger than it is.

To celebrate the closing of another year, we wanted to look back at the growth of our city’s economy, as told by our biggest industry – tourism. Last month, Explore Asheville released a look at tourism by the numbers, in collaboration with Tourism Economics: An Oxford Economics Company. We broke them down for you.

Learn more about how our visitors fund the city, what the TPDF + BCTDA are and how it has awarded $44 million to 39 projects, the benefits of lodging and advertising + more here. ⬇️

💸 Visitors spend $2 billion at local businesses in Buncombe County each year (those businesses buy goods + services from other local businesses resulting in a total economic impact of $3.1 billion).

💸 In 2017, tourism generated in $199.1 million in state + local revenues. City of Asheville: $27.9 million total ($20.6 million property tax + $6.2 million in sales tax), Buncombe County: $63.1 million total ($32.4 million property tax + $28.7 million in sales tax), and State of North Carolina: $108.2 million total ($73.7 million in sales tax).

💸 The tourism industry provides jobs for 18,346 people in Buncombe County. And, in total, tourism supports 27,241 jobs – which is 15% of employment in the county.

💸 Tourism also generated $840 million in employee wages. As every industry has entry-level wages, hotels employ only 5% of the people in Buncombe County who earn less than $12 an hour. Last year, Asheville hotels paid 19% more on average than their counterparts in N.C.

💸 Tourism supports 4,812 workers in lodging, 2,673 workers in retail, 6,142 restaurant workers, 2,895 jobs in entertainment and recreation + over 10,000 jobs in other categories.

💸 The Tourism Product Development Fund (TPDF) has been able to award $44 million of occupancy tax revenue to 39 projects. $22 million has been awarded to City of Asheville-owned projects.

💸 TPDF infrastructure projects (more than just streets + sidewalks) include: $7.1 million for City of Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment, $22 million in total for City of Asheville-owned projects, $6 million to Buncombe County for the Enka Sports Complex, $2.25 million for Town of Woodfin’s greenway/blueway, $2 million Pack Square Park, and $5.567 million for the U.S. Cellular Center.

💸 Lodging businesses provide 100% of the funding to attract visitors to Buncombe County. Every dollar spent on advertising generates $43 of spending at local businesses (within just a few months of a campaign) and 75% of that is at non-lodging businesses.

💸 The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) approved nearly $10 million in funding for six projects that will be used by residents while also increasing visitor spending in the county. Those six projects are: Enka Recreation Destination ($6 million), LEAF Global Arts Center ($705,000), African-American Heritage and Cultural District and Interactive Museum ($100,000), YMI Cultural Center Improvements ($800,000), Center for Craft, Creativity & Design ($975,000), and the North Carolina Arboretum Garden Lighting and Parking Enhancements ($905,000).

**For more information on visitor funding in the City of Asheville and Buncombe County, click here.

It can be mind-blowing to think that for a city with only 90,000 residents, 4 million people visit each year. We can thank those visitors for helping to provide our small city with big city amenities.

We want to know for a future feature: Is your job connected to tourism? If so, click here or reply to this email and let us know.

Happy Hump Day, Asheville!


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